I am a stay at home mom and my children wake up (at what feels like) the crack of dawn. Now that the nights of Laylat al-Qadr are here, should I sleep all night or sleep early, what should I prioritize? Or should I make my children stay up with me and at what age is this an option?
A parent who needs sleep
Dear a parent who needs sleep,
Firstly, I sympathize, be compassionate and gentle to yourself. Secondly, the decisions that you make will depend on your circumstances. Thirdly, the quality of your worship matters, not the quantity.
When raising a family, you have to be realistic and practical about your circumstances and the needs of your family. If your children must get a certain amount of sleep in order to be able to attend school and function properly, then that must be taken into consideration and prioritized. In making decisions about your responsibilities and how to worship or how much worship to engage in, there needs to be balance. Having balance in this regard refers to fulfilling your responsibilities as well as taking time for worship. This is especially true when that responsibility entails fulfilling the rights of your family members.
Imām Jaʿfar aṣ-Ṣādiq (ʿa) said,
“By Allah, there is no better way to worship Allah than to fulfill the right of a fellow believer.”[Mizān al-Ḥikmah, Ḥadīth #4603]
Therefore, when preparing for the aʿmāl nights of the sacred month Ramaḍān, plan out your day. Get some rest during the day if possible. Have the children also rest if you plan to do aʿmāls as a family. Make it something that they look forward to, with treats available and a peaceful atmosphere. Family members can stay up within reason and based on age. When very young children become tired, allow them to go to sleep, encourage older children to stay up to the extent that they are not negatively impacted if there is school the next day. If you need to take the children to school the next day, then rest so you are able to do so safely.
During the sacred month of Ramaḍān, our ʿibādah or worship is not limited to our fasts or our prayer; a believer’s sleep and even their breathing is an act of worship.
Imām ʿAlī (ʿa) said,
“Verily the Prophet of Allah (ṣ) addressed us one day, saying, “O people, verily the month of Allah has come to you with benediction, mercy and forgiveness -[…] Your breaths during this month are considered glorification [of Allah], and your sleep worship. Your actions in it are accepted and your supplication answered…”[Mizān al-Ḥikmah, Ḥadīth #4603]
With this in mind, take comfort that Allah (swt) takes a comprehensive look at the believer during the sacred month of Ramaḍān. Our intentions, our efforts and our obedience to Him all matter. This month is also a time when deeds are multiplied and the smallest effort done for the pleasure of Allah (swt) means more. Furthermore, the raising and care of your children is also an act of worship, so do not feel that you are losing out when you are unable to fulfil every act of worship in these holy nights.
May these nights be blessed and fruitful for you!